MAKE: Beer

DIY: Follow the Recipe

Not too long ago, being a DIY person meant that you spent your weekends shopping at Home Depot or Lowes and you were handy with tools around the house. Or maybe you were good at working on your car. DIY projects were, for the most part, very labor-oriented. You didn’t need to call the plumber because you could fix the sink yourself. Or you didn’t have to hire a contractor because you could build a cabinet yourself. I have never had a talent for this type of DIY work. tumblr_lkmzknUZ7Q1qja2gbo1_500 When I first started homebrewing I saw it mostly as a DIY thing… and one that I might actually be good at. I got the ingredients, followed a recipe, and made beer. Easy!

Maker: Invent the recipe

IMG_20120608_142212A few years ago, a new generation of DIY popped up that got me really excited. It’s called the “maker movement”. While traditional DIY encouraged bypassing the mass produced thing for a thing you made yourself, the maker culture encourages inventing completely new things based on already existing things. Not surprisingly, it’s crossing over in a big way with homebrewing.

The maker movement really blossomed when the technology became cheap and easy to use. Ten years ago, you would need an advanced degree in electronics to make an LCD display work. Today, with a little programming know-how and an Arduino board, you can do this in 30 minutes.

The same can be said for homebrewing. The ingredients and adjuncts are so well made that it’s relatively easy to make a beer that tastes as good as off-the-shelf. But people are finding that they want more than your standard BJCP style beers. Why make a pale ale when you can make a “toasted banana rocky road imperial oaked pale ale”? I sincerely believe that if you can dream it, you can ferment it. Just check out the blog “Will it ferment?” for some amazing examples.

Pushing the Envelope

Some people just like to stick to the basic styles; that’s ok. Some of peoples’ creations may be too far out there for some peoples’ tastes. That’s ok too. The important thing is that homebrewers, even new ones, are testing the limits of what they can make. One year when we went to the beer fest, Kyle brought 10 gallons of his “Hot Pepper Porter”. It sounds awful and amazing at the same time. Bottom line is that it was delicious… but it was much more than that. It was surprising, creative and new. No one had tasted anything like that before. The line for it was enormous and all of it was gone about a quarter of the way in to each session.

3528Neapolitan Milk Stout? No problem… a milk stout kit, two vanilla beans, cocoa nibs and strawberry extract. Watermelon Hefeweizen? Sure, that’s a Weizenbier kit and watermellon extract. DuClaw Brewing has a peanut butter and chocolate beer called “Sweet Baby Jesus”. The Brew Dogs and Jim Koch brew a “Boston Clambake” beer, infused with lobsters and clams. John Maier from Rogue Brewing used wild yeast found in his beard to ferment their “New Crustacean” beer. The possibilities are endless.

Will it be delicious? Who knows!

Will it be uniquely yours? Absolutely.

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